Welcome to the third installment of “Meet the Reign,” (the first two. on www.sdsportsnet.com, are here and here). Today SDSN introduces you to the guys competing to be the main man in net for the Reign.
Last season’s incumbent starter, Curtis Darling decided to hang up the skates rather than spend another year in the ECHL. He took a job as an assistant coach with the Wilfrid Laurier University in the CIS.
Mike Zacharias is the lone returnee in goal for the Reign. Last season he posted a 10-6-1 record with a S% of .894 and a GAA of 3.28. The 2009-10 season was the first in professional hockey after four years playing at Minnesota State University. His career record with the Mavericks was 45-39-16.
Prior to that Zacharias bounced around the USHL playing for four teams in three years. He split the 2004 season with Green Bay and Tri City. In 2003 he played for St. Louis and in 2002 he was in Topeka. Zacharias faces stiff competition though for the starting role in Ontario despite being the only netminder to play for the Reign in 2009-10.
One of the goalies coming to camp to challenge Zacharias is Garrett Zemlak. Zemlak got a cup of coffe in the “E” last year with Charlotte (2-0-1, .929 S%, 2.15 GAA) after spending 4 years in the WHL.
In the WHL, Zemlak spent two seasons with Prince Albert (2008-09) and the two years prior with Saskatoon (2006-07). In four years in the WHL, Zemlak finished with a record of 54-49-6, a .901 S% and a GAA of 3.26.
Martin Jones joins the Reign after being assigned to Ontario from the Los Angeles Kings’ AHL affiliate in Manchester. He begins his first professional season after spending the last four years in the WHL playing for the Calgary Hitmen.
Jones was outstanding in his time in Calgary. He finished with a 118-28-9 record, 2.24 GAA and .912 S%. His 2.21 GAA in 2009-10 led the WHL. He also finished fourth in s% lodging a .919 mark.
The final contender for netminding duties in Ontario is Kellen Briggs who makes his return to North America after spending last season playing in Germany. Briggs appeared in 12 2008-2009 contests with the Reign finishing 7-5-0 with a 2.43 GAA and a .927 S%.
Briggs was a four-year starter at University of Minnesota where he won the Frank Pond rookie of the year award for the Golden Gophers. He won a team record 25 games as a freshman. In 2004-05, as a sophomore, he was selected as a co-winner of the John Mariucci award for team MVP. That year he led the Gophers to the NCAA Frozen Four. Briggs finished with a university record 13 shutouts and 84 wins against 34 losses during his time at University of Minnesota.
This is shaping up as quite the competition between the four contenders vying for a shot to back stop the Reign for the upcoming season. The race started last night in Stockton as the Reign began their preseason schedule with a 6-2 loss to the Thunder. Jones took the loss for the Reign putting himself perhaps behind the other contenders in the competition.
Kyle Kraemer and Eric Doyle scored goals for the Reign. The Reign couldn’t stay out of the penalty box and allowed two PP goals against.
Rust could have played a role in the defeat as the Reign were playing their first preseason game. The Thunder, meanwhile, were already playing in their third contest. The Thunder were far sharper than the Reign on this night at least.
The Reign’s open their home schedule October 23rd against the same Thunder team. Join SDSN at the Citizen’s Business Bank arena for some exciting hockey that night.